Relics Of Humanity – Obscuration (Brutal Death Metal)

The Belarus band Relics of Humanity is back to utterly destroy you with their most relentless release yet! This is their first new material since Ominously Reigning upon the Intangible in 2014 and one major change since then is that they’ve add the legendary vocalist A.J. Magana (ex-Defeated Sanity, ex-Disgorge and ex-Condemned (live)) to their brutal horde. This is no small piece to add to the puzzle and believe me it shows straight from the start this is a piece they have been missing in the past. During the 12 years the band has been going I haven’t really got into them, I mean sure I have a couple tracks on my gym playlist and both their previous releases are solid albums but they aren’t albums I get that feeling I need to take for a spin. That’s the major difference maker as with Obscuration I do, short and sweet as it is with its 16 minute runtime.

Obscuration showcase just about every great element you need for a top tier brutal death metal release. The songwriting is their best yet, which I thought was even their strong side before. Drumming is tighter and have more room than before, guitars sounds meaner and nastier than ever and then we have the insane gutturals from Magana. Can he even do a bad performance? The production is right where I want it to be for this genre, not over-produced gnarly sounding, giving each instrument the right sound (I would like to put the volume up a tiny bit on the guitars though) and in general just making the album feel alive.

As I mentioned before this is a short album, an EP, and the 16 minutes does fly by rather quick. Quality over quantity though and when Relics of Humanity can produce such an evil old school sounding brutal death metal album like this then I will take it every day of the week. One thing is certain, this is the most brutal album you will hear this month and it’s a now looking bright for brutal death metal after a slow January. They even packed this deadly piece of EP in a sweet package on top with covert art from Dan Seagrave (Suffocation, Decrepit Birth, Morbid Angel). I can definitely recommend Obscuration to fans of Defeated Sanity, Unfathomable Ruination, Disgorge, Condemned and Disentomb. Relics of Humanity have now found a sound that works really well for them and I can only hope we don’t have to wait long for a full-length when they are on form.

Written by J.B.

Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Defeated Sanity and Condemned
Release date: February 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Legions of the Unbowed
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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Pillars of Eternity

Alright I know I am late to the party with this one. Just wanted to get that out first. For those unfamiliar Pillars of Eternity is an isometric Dungeon & Dragons style RPG by the studio Obsidian Entertainment (also known for Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth) released in 2015. I however started playing it late 2018, after getting it on a Steam sale. With a great character creator I took my time to create the look and feel of my dwarf barbarian and off no an adventure I went. Initially I had a hard time getting into the game, it felt a bit slow and the story didn’t click with me. A lot of this had to do with my inexperience with these type of games, even on normal the battles were hard fought and I often found myself having to replay fights a few times before finding the right strategy.

Alright I know I am late to the party with this one. Just wanted to get that out first. For those unfamiliar Pillars of Eternity is an isometric Dungeon & Dragons style RPG by the studio Obsidian Entertainment (also known for Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth) released in 2015. I however started playing it late 2018, after getting it on a Steam sale. With a great character creator I took my time to create the look and feel of my dwarf barbarian and off on adventure I went. Initially I had a hard time getting into the game, it felt a bit slow and the story didn’t click with me. A lot of this had to do with my inexperience with these type of games, even on normal the battles were hard fought and I often found myself having to replay fights a few times before finding the right strategy.

Hours in I had got into the battle system, found my group and the story started taking off with more and more side-quests, stronghold upgrades etc overwhelming me. That’s when the game got really fun for me and I am glad I stuck by it, not calling it quits just because I was unfamiliar with the gameplay and slow story start. In the end though the story, even if it got better, didn’t suck me as I had hoped from a story rich RPG. It did it’s job but in all honesty I had way more fun with the side-quests, fixing my stronghold etc. These type of games are great in the sense they age well, the game was never super graphic heavy and obviously isn’t as pretty as say God of War but it isn’t meant to. The whole fantasy design is great and you do get feelings of thinking this is pretty but usually due to the design and not the ultra graphic in itself. One thing I need to share is that in this game your party members can die, forever. Having had side-quests with them failing and your character being gone for good. This was in my opinion a very good thing and it had me on my toes in every single fight throughout the game. Save often!

All in all I spent close to 60 hours on the game, which is quite astonishing seeing I wanted to quite around 3 hours in. There was a lot to do, hard but fun and a decent story to go with it. A great classic RPG experience that will please fans of Baldur’s Gate and the likes. I hear the second game is even better in just about every aspect and I can’t wait to get into that one next!

Pros

  • Great character creator.
  • A lot to do.

Cons

  • Slow start.
  • Was hoping for a better main story.

Graphics: 3/5
Music: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Score: 3/5 Good

Interview: Equipoise

Equipoise is one of the new forces in technical death metal. Despite being that their EP did so well and the band is already seen as one for the furture, without even having released a full-length yet! That time is soon upon us though so what better time to interview the vocalist Stevie Boiser on the bands history, how the new album has been going and, of course, what’s Stevie’s favorite game of all time?

First thing first, who does what in Equipoise? Does everyone take part in writing the music?

Oh boy, well this could take a second because we’re like the Slipknot of tech death haha. By that I mean we have a lot of moving parts.  Equipoise is composed of Seven members.  Nick Padovani (Kossuth, Virulent Depravity) Guitar / Classical Guitar Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain) Fretless Bass Chason Westmoreland (Burning The Masses, Ex-The Faceless, Ex-Hate Eternal) Drums Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole, Perihelion) Guitar Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Chthe’ilist, Zealotry, Eternity’s End, Serocs, Cosmic Atrophy) Guitar / Classical Guitar Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Pitts/Minneminn Project, The Fractured Dimension, North Tale) Keys  and Myself, Stevie Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Ashen Horde) Vocals.

As far as writing music goes, Nick handled the majority of writing for the album. A few things here changed here and there by various members. Every solo on the record was written by its performer. In terms of lyrics and vocals, thats 100% my department. Now that we have a footing and a clear direction for Equipoise I’m hopeful that everyone will be contributing more for the next record.

Equipoise is somewhat of a supergroup with members from acts like Inferi, Chthe’ilist, Beyond Creation and Virulent Depravity just to name a few. How do did you all get together?

The origin of the band starts back in 2015 with Nick Padovani and Zach Hohn. They started jamming that summer and things quickly evolved from just playing riffs to writing and arranging songs. Once they had a few tracks completed Nick began reaching out to musicians he admired to see if they would be interested in joining the project. Hugo and I were both tapped and joined the band. I remember that Equipoise didn’t actually have anything recorded when Nick first reached out to me. He just sent me a GuitarPro file for what became Alchemic Web of Deceit haha. It worked though, I was hooked! 

Fast forward a few moths and we were able to complete our first offering as a band, our EP Birthing Homunculi. Much to our surprise the EP did pretty well, and we had a very warm reception. Not too long after that Zach left the band so we recruited Sanjay to fill the void. Sanjay had performed a guest solo on the EP and in addition to that Mixed and Mastered it as well so it was great to have him working with us again. I reached out to my good friend Chason Westmoreland to see if he’d be interested in playing drums. The two of us had been talking about being in a band together for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Shortly after that Jimmy and Phil joined our ranks as well. I guess you could say that Equipoise was made possible by the power of the internet haha. We’re all pretty spaced out geographically so we didn’t really have the option of approaching this band in a traditional manor. 

Stevie you’ve been a really hard worker with many projects ongoing and you’re a great talent. As such you’ve already been apart of bands such as Vale of Pnath, Tethys and recently even joined Inferi. How has the ride been? Got any secrets to become a wicked vocalist?

Thank you very much Jimmy! I really appreciate that. Its been crazy man haha. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be in a number of really killer bands and as a result play shows for people in a number of different places. Im very grateful for that. Truth be told im just following my passion. I absolutely love it. Joining Inferi is probably one of the most surreal things thats happened to me. I’ve been a huge fan of their music since about 2007, so this is kind of a dream come true.

As far as vocal tips go I really only have a few. -Practice, practice, practice! Listen to the way your body responds to your vocal approach and then cater to it. You don’t want to burn your pipes out.  – Develop your own voice. Learning a bunch of different techniques or expanding your range is great. Id definitely encourage people to do that, but be conscious of how you can make these things your own. You are an individual and thus have your own voice. Find it, and own it.  
– Lastly, if you can. Invest in a quality way to record your own voice. While its not absolutely necessarily, its a great way to be able to experiment with your voice and listen back abjectivly. This can also save you money in the long run. Last year I recorded vocals for three separate albums (Equipoise, Ashen Horde, and Inferi) and demoed things out for Tethys. All of this was done at home and on my own time. Also, if you’re looking for a band you can use this as a means to audition for bands you’re interested in or at the very least, a way to get your voice out there.

The upcoming album Demiurgus will be Equipoise full-length debut. For how long has it been in progress?

Technically this album has been in the works since 2015. By the end of the year Nick had skeletons for the majority of the album. Although, we didn’t really spend time fully flushing out those ideas until a short while after Birthing Homunculi was released. Once we completed our line up we started the process of combing over each track and revising our work. Due to the face that we’re all so spread out we couldn’t really take the traditional approach of just jamming the songs together in a live room so we had a lot of guitar pro files and scratch tracks flying back and forth between members.

You signed with one of the best new labels The Artisan Era not too long ago. How did it happen?

After we released the EP we wanted to find a way to reach a bigger audience. Honestly, we really didn’t even consider another label. It was evident that what Mike and Malcolm were building with The Artisan Era was special. Every band the label represented released amazing music. We submitted the EP and informed them that we had a new album in the works. Luckily for us they really enjoyed what we did, and now they’re about to release our first full length record.

How do you guys find the time in your schedule between all your other bands to rehearse, write new material and especially go on tour?

As of now we are not an active touring band. However, Nick and I have been discussing the logistics of it all and if theres a large enough demand for it in the future we would love to make it happen! As for balancing writing, rehearsing, and recording equipoise material it all boils down to time management. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I tracked all of my vocals for the album a few weeks before the last Inferi tour. Personally, I try to approach my projects by order deadlines. I make sure to shift my focus from band to band so that I can stay fresh and up to date on each of them. I’ll typically spend my time working on whichever band has new material prepped and ready or a show / tour coming up.  

Since the release of the EP Birthing Homunculi the band has not only had a lineup change but also added another guitarist. How has that changed the sound of Equipoise?

Having both Sanjay and Phil join Equipoise was a huge deal for all of use. Both are absolute monsters with a crazy amount of skill and an uncanny ability to navigate their instrument. I think the best examples of this occur in the interplay of their solos. They both have such different styles, but they compliment each other wonderfully. I think that above all else having them on board really helped texture songs. 

There are a lot of guests on Demiurgus, especially on the last track Ouroboric. What was the decision behind having ten different session musicians on the album?

Our goal overall was to really push ourselves to create something special with Demiurgus. When it came to selecting guests for the album we set aside sections we thought would allow the to shine while simultaneously bringing a new flavor to the music. As a result we were able to work with a number of stellar musicians who would broaden our musical pallet. 

From what I see on Facebook I believe you’re a bit of a gamer. If I am right what’s your favorite game of all time and what do you play now?

Oh man… Thats a tough one! My answer is kind of cheating but I’ve got a threeway split for this one. Its a tie between Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 3 (SNES), and Majora’s Mask. I can’t tell you how many hours Ive spent with these games. Each has so much depth, incredible character development, and really fun gameplay.  Right now I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon Go. I’m trying to catch up on all the stuff thats happens since I stopped playing in 2016.  Currently Im doing some post game stuff in Pokemon Ultra Moon, playing the new Smash Bros, and Breath of the Wild/ I will be taking on Gannon almost immediately after this interview haha.

That was all I had! Thanks for taking your time Stevie, got any final words?

No problem at all Jimmy, thanks again for having me. Its been a pleasure! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Demiurgus! It drops on March 8th via The Artisan Era. The New Ashen Horde record Fallen Cathedrals will be out on March 22nd, and New Inferi is right around the corner as well! For anyone who would like to keep up to date with what im working on for Inferi, Equipoise, Tethys, Ashen Horde, or my snakes feel free to follow my on Instagram @Mc_Screamy or on Twitter @ScreamyMc, See you next time folks! 

Damnation Army – Death Macabre (Black/Death Metal)

It’s been ten years since the one-man band Damnation Army released an album. Thomas Nyholm (Hordes of the Apocalypse and Isgärde) started this project in 2002 and were really active the first seven years with one EP and four full-length albums to its name but since then it’s been quiet for ten years, until now.

Quite fast it hits me Damnation Army is an army to be reckoned with. This is the kind of music with its roots heavy in the Dissection sound, one I am sure we all love. The vocals though is more from the Norwegian black metal scene as it reminds me a lot of a mix between Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) and Abbath (Immortal), rather sinister stuff.

The 30 minutes fly bye and it sure is a nice listen, it gives me a lot of great riffs and nods to the early era of black metal. While there isn’t much separating the songs it in all honesty doesn’t have to as you’re sure to headbang your way through it anyways. I also need to highlight the track Ancient Evil Rituals, now that’s how you make an Dissection homage! I simply can’t get the riffs out of my head! All in all sometimes you simply need an album like Death Macabre that offers a single lane approach, with no gimmicks and bullshit. It might not be memorable enough for you to remember in a year or two but for now it hits those sweet spots for this old Dissection lover just right.

Written by J.B.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: January 17th, 2019
Favorite song: Ancient Evil Rituals
Score: 3/5 Good

Albums of the Month: January

Welcome to a new section of The Metal Gamer! You’ve already noticed two changes these past few months with both interviews and gaming reviews being new segments to the TMG camp. I’ve always thought something has been lacking, that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Especially in the sense of finding new great underground metal in a quick and easy way, which is one of the key things for me when starting this blog. Each month you will find the five albums I’ve enjoyed the most, a few lines on why and of course a link so you can listen to it yourself.

Album of the Month

Desecravity – Anathema

As a fan of the technical and brutal this is a no brainer for me. Japan’s heavy hitters Desecravity has made their best album yet and is a must have for fans of Cryptosy, Origin and Defeated Sanity. Released January 25th via Willowtip Records.

Runners-up

Malist – In the Catacombs of Time

Atmospheric, dark and sinister. This black metal band from Russia is one of the most promising new acts I’ve heard in a long time. Released January 25th via Northern Silence Productions.

Festerday – Iihtallan

What can I say I am a sucker for old school death metal. Finnish Festerday are veterans of the scene and shows the old dogs got bark. Their blend of death metal with both punk and even hints of grind elements to it makes it stand out. Released January 4th via Season of Mist Underground Activists.

Rendered Helpless – Suffer, Seraphim

With a new direction from their previous releases and lyrics that draws influences from Warhammer, Diablo, Doom the third album from Rendered Helpless became an instant hit to me. A change that was much needed for me to get into the band for real! Released January 25th, 2019 as an digital independent release. Out on CD February 25th via
Inherited Suffering Records.

Malevolent Creation – The 13th Beast

It was my most anticipated album of 2019 and while it didn’t quite live up to those it’s still a very solid death metal album. Seeing the loss the band had I am honestly surprised they are still going, and going hard too! Released January 18th via Century Media Records.

I also need to name some honorable mentions that I’ve had a few spins with but didn’t quite make it. Who knows if they would of knocked one of those mentioned above if I had more time with them though?

Noctambulist – Atmospheres of Desolation
Altarage – The Approaching Roar
Barshasketh – Barshasketh

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy this new segment of The Metal Gamer and that it gives you some new great music! Did I miss any great album? What’s your top five of the month? Feel free to comment metal gamers!